Spidey's web snares record b.o.

Traditional debut, $176.6 mil; six-day opening, $231 mil

As complete weekend returns were calculated Monday morning from a massive 16,700-screen opening at 8,700 theaters in 105 overseas territories, Sony Pictures Releasing International reported that "Spider-Man 3" broke the all-time record for a "conventional" international debut by racking up $176.6 million and beating the $154.7 million opening take of its own "The Da Vinci Code."

By "conventional," Sony is referring to the normal opening day in various countries. For example, France opens on a Wednesday, Germany on a Thursday, the U.K. on Friday and Japan on a Saturday. But under Sony's offshore release strategy for "Spidey 3," 18 markets started out on Tuesday, with many contributing all-time one-day opening marks. The six-day opening total came to $231 million, another nugget for industry record keepers.

On the basis of a six-day count, 29 markets set new opening records, according to Sony. Japan, a six-day opener, was the leading weekend scorer with $26.6 million from 807 screens. The U.K. followed with $23.6 million from 1,088 locations, hailed as the second-biggest three-day weekend after "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." France, a six-day contender, came in third with $22.5 million from 967 sites, but France's Sunday presidential election is said to have cut the boxoffice by 27% in a market that normally drops by 5% on a Sunday. Rounding out the Top Five were Korea, which delivered $17.6 million from 863 screens in six days (three times better than local film "The Host"), and Italy, which took in $14.9 million from 907 screens, beating "The Da Vinci Code's" opening by 24%.

Sony said that every market in Asia opened to record numbers. Minor exceptions to the overwhelming worldwide records set of the webslinger came from Australia, Israel, Denmark and Norway, which narrowly failed to top the boxoffice marks of either "Spider-Man" or "Spider-Man 2," a feat accomplished by most of the foreign markets. Spidey's opening weekend Down Under did not have the landmark results achieved in other markets, tallying just the seventh-highest non-holiday opening overall.

Sony's promotional campaign, which included major premieres in eight key markets and widespread overseas travel by the film's talent, played a significant role in bringing "Spider-Man 3" to the forefront.

"The cinema industry in Singapore has never seen anything like the phenomenon of 'Spider-Man 3,'" said Kenneth Tan, managing director of Gold Village Multiplex & Golden Village Pictures. "At peak times, we had 12 of our Golden Village screens (at one location) playing the movie. Our staff has been working mega overtime to cope with the crowds — everyone is very busy and very happy."

In Italy, two men in Rome were arrested for scalping tickets to people waiting in line. One newspaper complained that Tobey Maguire stayed in Rome too short a time. Another noted the advertising for the film was not at the same level as for previous blockbusters since the word-of-mouth was so successful.

In Mexico, where a Friday bow saw the film pick up $11.9 million from 1,260 screens, a popular sports magazine helped the local hype with a cover page featuring two pro soccer players dressed as Spider-Man and Venom to illustrate the rivalry of the two Mexican teams.

In Japan, Spidey fans turned out in force — many of them in costume as well. It is seen as the fastest title to break the ¥3 billion mark ($25 million) in just six days and is said to be on target to be the first film released in May (traditionally a quiet month in Japan) to earn ¥10 billion ($83.2 million) at the boxoffice.

Reviews in a number of markets were mixed, ranging from "the best of the trilogy" to a call to bring down the franchise "with an almighty crash."

While "Spider-Man 3" easily dominated the overseas market over the past six days, a number of holdover titles added to their international cumes over the weekend. BVI's suburban bike comedy "Wild Hogs" went up to $64.9 million after picking up $4.8 million from 2,485 screens in 38 countries. Universal's "Mr. Bean's Holiday" advanced to $166.1 million, also with a $4.8 million take coming from 3,037 screens in 50 markets. Paramount's "Shooter" targeted $3.2 million to raise its cume to $35 million.

More weekend action: "300" took in $1.8 million, lifting its cume to $228.4 million. "The Reaping" grossed $1.7 million, with its cume now at $31.6 million. "Music & Lyrics" wrote off another $1.1 million for a cume to date of $98.1 million. "Bridge to Terabithia" opened No. 2 to Spidey in the U.K., with $1.6 million from 406 screens, lifting its cume to $31.6 million after a total weekend score of $2 million from 13 markets. "Babel's" international cume went up to $95.5 million, largely aided by an $1.8 million holdover in Japan. "Epic Movie's" $1.2 million weekend raised its foreign gross to $41.5 million. And "Meet the Robinsons," which has 50% of its markets still to play, picked up $1.1 million to hoist its cume to $48.5 million.

Cume updates: "Blood Diamond," $113.1 million; "The Number 23," $32.5 million; "Fracture," $4.7 million; "The Last Mimzy," $2.6 million; "Notes on a Scandal," $30 million; and "Rocky Balboa," $82.1 million.

The second May tentpole, BVI's "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," also the third entry of a popular franchise, is due in 16 days, with standing opening-day launches throughout the world starting in France on May 23.

Julian Ryall in Tokyo, Eric J. Lyman in Rome, Katie Thompson in London, John Hecht in Mexico City, Janine Stein in Singapore, and Pip Bulbeck in Sydney contributed to this report.
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